Develop a value adding assessment practices framework: Assessment Purpose and Context

This is the second article on how to develop a value adding assessment practices framework.

In our previous article, we discussed the importance of starting with the end in mind and noted that it is critical to consider your talent strategy as a first step in the development of your framework.

In this article, we focus on the importance of understanding the assessment purpose and context before determining what, how and when to assess.

Assessment purpose relates to the reasons for assessment, while the assessment context refers to issues related to the nature of the individuals being assessed, the test taker environment and the assessment volumes, for example.

Assessment Purpose

The ultimate aim of any assessment is to provide information to individuals and decision-makers that will assist them in making better talent decisions. It is important to consider the nature of these decisions in order to determine which assessment battery and process will add the most value.

Consider the following:

  • What is the risk associated with the decision? What are the implications of getting it wrong? Does the decision relate to a high-risk selection decision or a low-risk development needs analysis? Selection decisions for critical roles or restructuring purposes have greater consequences if the wrong decision is made. In these cases, the use of a comprehensive assessment battery and robust process becomes that much more important.
  • How many individuals are being assessed in relation to a vacancy or opportunity for succession? Assessments generally add more value if more individuals are assessed in relation to the decision. Or put differently, assessments add more value where differentiating between applicants is more difficult. For example, when assessing for a highly technical role where there are very few candidates, you might not have that much choice in who you can select. In this instance, a comprehensive assessment battery will add very little value to the final decision.
  • How good are you at making these type of talent decisions now? Or, what is your current baseline? If you already make quality decisions without assessments or, using our example above, select from individuals that already have a high chance of success due to their technical skills, then a comprehensive battery will add less value. In these cases, it might add more value to identify success factors that relate to organisational fit (like values) and to assess for these factors specifically.

Assessment Context:

Assessment context refers to aspects like the educational level of the test takers, the test environment, the delivery format (online vs off-line) and the mode of supervision (supervised or unsupervised).

Consider the following:

  • The logistics related to the assessment process. Should assessments be supervised, or will online unsupervised delivery be acceptable?
  • What technology is available to test takers? Depending on the organisation, it often happens that operational staff do not have access to computers or the Internet. In these cases, a supervised mode might be more appropriate.
  • What is the typical profile of test takers in terms of education, management seniority and location? Consider the implications of a supervised three-hour assessment for a highly qualified applicant that is currently working as an Executive at a competitor of the organisation he or she has applied to. In this case, an equally valid shorter assessment that can be completed online and unsupervised at a time suitable to the applicant might be a better choice.

An understanding of the talent strategy of the organisation, the implications for talent decisions, the assessment purpose and the typical context of assessments allows you to make informed decisions when designing an assessment practices framework that adds value.

 The next steps in designing the framework requires decisions about the assessment criteria, the assessment methods or devices, the process, feedback and report formats, data storage and the delivery technology. Our next article will explore considerations related to assessment criteria.

April 12, 2017